It’s only fitting that an Alaska fishing village throws a great salmon festival. Every year in July the town of Cordova takes a break from fishing to turn out for the Copper River Salmon Jam. This festival aims to celebrate salmon and promote the health and sustainability of local salmon runs.
A seafood cook-off, fun runs, youth education activities, music workshops, a salmon barbecue and live music highlight the two-day celebration of Copper River salmon. It’s the perfect time to visit Cordova, which is off the road system but only 35-minutes by plane from Anchorage. During the day you can hike the endless trails of the Chugach National Forest or check out Alaska’s famed Childs Glacier, then head to the festival for a night of seafood and dancing.
Cordova is a fishing village, with over 50 percent of the local population earning a living on the sea. Longliners, gillnetters, seiners—they all come into port for this weekend celebration. The party starts at 6pm on Friday at the Taste of Cordova where you can enjoy unique cook-off entries featuring locally harvested ingredients. Salmon Jam musicians will keep you entertained, and there will be vendors selling food & artwork throughout the evening. There is also a beer garden featuring ales from Ninkasi Brewery for those aged 21+. Local acts open up Salmon Jam and out-of-town headline acts will close down the evening at midnight. All Friday evening activities are held at the local ski hill. (There’s a shuttle to and from town).
Saturday morning there’s the Alaska Salmon Run fun run, with distances ranging from marathon-length to one mile. Over 200 folks enter, with a quarter of the field from out of town. It’s a beautiful, wild course, crossing the Copper River Delta with views of glaciers, waterfowl, bald eagles and sometimes even moose and bears!! Race central is the parking lot of the community hospital.
Saturday also includes the kids’ educational component, Small Fry activities, back at the ski hill. Learn how to make fish prints, enjoy salmon education games, and watch live salmon filleting and preservation demonstrations (smoking, canning, sausage making, etc.). Then it’s the salmon barbecue to celebrate the road races and present awards to participants, complete with fresh Copper River salmon, salad, sides and a delicious cake. Live music picks up at 6pm for another night of dancing and fun!
From salmon to jammin’, it’s the perfect time to visit Cordova. Check for airfare discount codes and an up-to-date schedule of activities on the Copper River Salmon Jam Facebook or webpage.